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Thursday, April 6, 2006
Notes from Utah's Dixie

Miscellaneous notes from Saint George, Utah, and the Utah League of Cities and Towns midyear event.

Today I'm blogging from St. George, Utah. I'm here for two days in a dual role. Today, mostly, I'm the spouse of my favorite city councilor, who is attending the midyear meeting of the Utah League of Cities and Towns. Tomorrow, mostly, I'm doing my day job.

ULCT's offerings today at the Dixie Center (see the program here if you're that curious) included a track for training new elected officials and a track on disaster preparedness and management. American Fork's mayor, Heber Thompson, and Council members Heidi Rodeback and Shirl LeBaron are here. The other two took the newbie track, and I saw Councilman LeBaron in the disaster sessions I attended. I can't speak for the track I didn't take, but what I attended seemed very well-planned and informative.

There is a "partner" or "auxiliary" agenda for spouses and spouse-equivalents (do I show my non-Utah roots with that phrase?), including a bus tour of Zion National Park, but I was more interested in the sessions themselves, so that bus left without me.

Here are just a few tidbits:

  • The two most commonly-cited problems in analysis of governments' handling of Katrina last fall were communications problems and leaders who did not know the plan.
  • Saint George's flooding last year was seriously exacerbated by water channels that had not been cleared in years. They cannot be cleared because the federal Endangered Species Act prohibits it. (I don't know which allegedly endangered species are allegedly there.)
  • Saint George is developing a good trail system, but the flooding washed out one or more of the trail bridges. The local government already is several months into the cumbersome process of filing the necessary regulatory paperwork to allow the bridge(s) to be rebuilt, including environmental impact statements.
  • Lunch was "Utah Comfort Food": pot roast, caramelized carrots (normal enough so far and quite tasty), funeral potatoes (a Utah classic but an odd choice for pot roast), and a green jello dessert which tasted a lot better than it looked. The funeral potatoes were complete with crushed corn flakes on top. Somebody was laughing at somebody.
  • The fine gentlemen who were going to save seats for my favorite council member and me were unable to do so, despite their highly honed administrative and political skills, so we sat with most of the elected leaders of Taylorsville and the mayor of Riverton, if memory serves. We learned, among other things, that if you want to put in a dog park, it's unwise to include water features (e.g. a pond). The reason why might not be considered a palatable topic for mealtime discussion.
  • I heard that construction of American Fork's skate park (currently a patch of bare dirt at Greenwood Park) is delayed by folks protesting the design. The interesting part of the story is that it's apparently the same folks who produced the design.
  • The Dixie Center, Saint George's relatively new convention center, is a nice enough facility. The streets that feed it are not up to convention-level traffic -- but traffic was surprisingly heavy elsewhere, also.
  • The wireless Internet service at our (deliberately unnamed) hotel here is in and out, mostly out, so it remains to be seen whether I can even post to my blog in a timely fashion. I suppose life will go on.

Tomorrow it's back to American Fork, where I've spent almost three of the last 12 days, and where the weather presumably will be better than the blizzard we left in last evening.

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